It’s been a few months since my last message and substantial changes in our policing strategy have been implemented. After a measured assessment of the state of the station and the community we serve, I have outlined key components of a law enforcement strategy that is critical to maintaining the quality of life and relatively low crime rate we enjoy here in Santa Clarita – even during these challenging times.
I have identified several areas of concern that will require a great deal of our focus. Those areas are drugs, gangs, juvenile crime, property crimes, illegal secondhand dealers, troubled rental properties, traffic safety, and unlawful neighborhood parties. I will be seeking your continued input and involvement in every aspect of our new policing strategy, especially as it pertains to our youth.
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We must work to keep heroin and other drugs out of our community and away from our schools and youth. Working with you we intend to do everything possible to accomplish this. With more than 60 schools, 50,000 youth in our community, and a challenging economy, it won’t be an easy task.
Our work has already begun! My staff and I have partnered with the city of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles to implement the Santa Clarita Valley Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, or “J-Team.” This program was launched under my direction in July. It consists of a sergeant, two deputy team members, a lead investigator, a data analyst investigator, and the direct involvement of our School Resource Deputies.
This new team has implemented a comprehensive plan to address those crimes that are having the greatest impact on our community, and directly affecting our youth. An element of the program also includes a unique crime tip reporting and tracking system that will ensure continuity, anonymity and thoroughness for those who provide us with information they expect will result in immediate action being taken.
Research has shown that many of the long time drug users and abusers start at an early age with simple drug experimentation and low level drug use, only to progress to more serious and highly addictive and dangerous substances such as heroin or methamphetamine. With that in mind the focus of the J-Team involves immediate notification to the team each time youth in our community are arrested for drug related crimes. J-Team members will follow up with intelligence gathering, immediate warrant service at the offending parties known location(s) in many cases and the tracking of the drug source to its supplier.
Since its inception just three months ago, the J-Team has processed 90 crime tips, investigated and closed 50 cases, and is currently working another 40 active cases. They have made 62 arrests and served five search warrants, including one where they tracked a drug dealer to Los Angeles and recovered nearly 200 balloons of heroin earmarked for our community and its youth. The J-Team has consistently followed leads outside the community to stop major suppliers for the Santa Clarita Valley. They have also been very busy with operations locally, including a Castaic case where nearly 30 balloons of heroin and a handgun were recovered, and a Valencia case involving the seizure of more than 40 balloons of heroin. Each of these cases resulted in the arrest of major drug suppliers.
With the help of patrol deputies, special assignment deputies, Narcotics Headquarters Bureau detectives, and the J-Team, the station has initiated the reporting of more than a thousand drug related incidents and arrests in the Santa Clarita Valley since January.
We are currently seeking grant funding for another important component of the program that will include monitoring those teens who have been arrested, and providing them with sustainable intervention programs so they avoid relapse.
Residential and vehicle burglaries and the pawning or resale of stolen property through secondhand dealers, as drug users seek to support their habit, is almost always a by-product of illicit drug use. The J-Team is also focusing on this anticipated repercussion through system database automation, pawn transaction tracking, and aggressive enforcement efforts. In fact, as I write this message, the team is preparing for a search warrant operation on an individual who has been flagged as repeatedly selling stolen property to a local secondhand dealer. As required by law, many local secondhand dealers are working in direct cooperation with our station to combat this problem.
Three other programs in development are the Santa Clarita Valley Gang Strategic Plan, our Residential Traffic Enforcement Strategy and a partnership with the city of Santa Clarita in providing dedicated funding for a patrol car specifically assigned to address weekend noise and party complaints. The Sheriff’s Department and the city have partnered to put into operation an aggressive and comprehensive gang enforcement strategy.
With this new strategy, gang enforcement deputies are better able to identify those individuals who are in the early stages of gang association and are intent on furthering their gang status. With this early identification and intervention, information provided to the District Attorney’s Office will aid them in bringing gang member enhancements to criminal charges and increase sentences. Through this strategy and community partnership programs, deputies hope to educate those heading toward a life in gangs to reconsider their future. Detectives will seek longer jail sentences for those who choose gangs in an effort to keep them off of our streets, out of our schools and away from our community.
Nearly finished is a newly updated Emergency Operations Center at the station. With the help of our community partners, the SCV Sheriff’s Foundation and our Search and Rescue team, we were able to equip and update our command center with the latest technology to assist deputies in effectively managing substantial incidents, emergencies, or natural disasters in our community.
Partnership in Crime Prevention – I want to thank each of you for your participation and support of local law enforcement. It is this true partnership in public safety that makes Santa Clarita such a great community.
Remember, keep those crime tips coming. This can be done anonymously through the Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers Web site at www.lacrimestoppers.org, by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or even via text by texting the letters TIPLA plus the crime tip to 274637 or CRIMES.
You can now receive news, events, information and alerts directly from the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station. Get detailed, up-to-date emails and text messages specific to our community directly from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department by registering for “Nixle” alerts at: www.nixle.com. Sign up for “LASD – Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.” The alerts and advisory text messages can also be received by simply texting SCVsheriff to 888777. (Standard text messaging rates may apply).
Captain Paul Becker
Chief of Police for the City of Santa Clarita
If you prefer to provide information ANONYMOUSLY, you can call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477), texting the letters TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or using the web site http://lacrimestoppers.org.